Premier John Horgan, with the Pattullo Bridge behind him. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)

Court battle over union-only Pattullo Bridge replacement workers continues

Case centres on government’s requirement that workers on Pattullo Bridge replacement project be unionized

The court battle concerning the provincial government’s requirement that tradespeople working on the Pattullo Bridge replacement project be unionized continues.

A B.C. Supreme Court judge confirmed that an “injunctive and declaratory relief” was not applicable but the petitioners’ application should be heard by the court rather than the Labour Relations Board, which the provincial government had argued for.

Justice Christopher Giaschi decided a challenge to the government’s legal authority to enforce its building trades only policy can proceed.

“We are therefore very pleased with the judge’s decision and are moving swiftly to schedule a week of hearings in October, subject to availability,” Fiona Famulak, president of the Vancouver Regional Construction Association, told the Now-Leader on Friday.

The minister of transportation and infrastructure imposed a condition, in a document entitled “Pattullo Bridge Replacement Project Request for Qualifications,” requiring all contractors wanting to work on the project to draw their construction workers exclusively from a Crown corporation called B.C. Infrastructure Benefits Inc., or BCIB, which entered into a collective bargaining agreement with unions affiliated with the Allied Infrastructure and Related Construction Council of B.C., or AIRCC.

The AIRCC in turn requires that everyone working on the bridge replacement project must belong to an affiliated union.

The petitioners object to this, seeking a declaration from the court that the requirement is a “unreasonable exercise” of the minister’s statutory power and runs contrary to Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

“It is my opinion that the claims for injunctive and declaratory relief in the petition and the claims invoking the Charter are to be struck or stayed,” Giaschi decided.

The judge concluded in his July 23rd judgment in Vancouver that the claims for relief under the Judicial Review Procedure Act “are not available” and need to be struck “as it is plain and obvious the impugned decision of the minister to impose the building trades only requirement is not the exercise of a statutory power” as defined in the Act.

The construction cost for the bridge replacement project is expected to be $1.377 billion. On July 16, 2018 Premier John Horgan announced that workers on the province’s large-scale construction projects will be supplied exclusively by building trades unions.

SEE VIDEO: New Pattullo Bridge expected to open in 2023

The petition claimed building trades unions have been “significant financial contributors” to the NDP, that these contributions are funded by union dues, and that the result of the building trades only requirement “is to force construction workers to support and fund the New Democratic Party of British Columbia as a condition of working on public construction projects.”

The case, Independent Contractors and Businesses Association v. British Columbia (Transportation and Infrastructure), involves a long list of petitioners.

They are the ICBA, Progressive Contractors Association, Christian Labour Association of Canada, Canada West Construction Union, the British Columbia Chamber of Commerce, British Columbia Construction Association, Canadian Federation of Independent Business, Vancouver Regional Construction Association, Jacob Bros. Construction Inc., Eagle West Crane & Rigging Inc., LMS Reinforcing Steel Group Ltd., Morgan Construction and Environmental Ltd., Tybo Contracting Ltd., Dawn Rebelo, Thomas MacDonald, Forrest Berry, Brendon Froude, Richard Williams and David Fuoco.

The respondents were the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure and the Attorney General of B.C. (on behalf of all ministries in the province).

“We’re delighted that our concerns have been taken seriously enough to be heard by the province’s highest court,” said Paul de Jong, president of the Progressive Contractors Association of Canada, in a press release, hailing the court decision as a major step toward protecting the rights of the “majority” of B.C.’s construction workers.



tom.zytaruk@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram and follow Tom on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Lotto winner Erwin Espiritu. (submitted photo: BCLC media relations)
$1M lotto surprise for Surrey dad buying takeout food for son’s birthday

‘When I went to show my son, he said that there was six zeros on the screen, not three’

Pumpkins outside Malvinder Gill’s farm on 152nd Street in Surrey. (submitted photo: Sarah Wilson)
At Surrey farm, free pumpkins for donation to food bank

‘Amazing for the community, especially during the pandemic,’ says one local resident

A reminder to students at Surrey’s Strawberry Hill Elementary to physically distance during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo: Lauren Collins)
Six Surrey schools reporting COVID-19 exposures

INTERACTIVE TABLE: Search for schools, organize by exposure dates

Delview Thanks4Giving committee members Alexa Liptak (left) and Amanda Quibing stand with the donation box outside the school’s front entrance. (James Smith photo)
Thanks 4 Giving food drive going drive-thru due to COVID-19

Organizers hope North Delta residents will come to them for Delview Secondary’s annual food drive

A new 23-storey condo development – which might also house a new White Rock city hall space – is proposed for the current site of 3 Dogs Brewing on Johnston Road, and will be discussed by the Land Use and Planning committee on Oct. 26. (File photo)
Civic centre could be part of new 23-storey White Rock condo tower

Development proposal to be discussed Oct. 26 by council’s land use committee

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson, B.C. NDP leader John Horgan and B.C. Greens leader Sonia Furstenau. (Black Press Media)
VIDEO: One day until B.C. voters go to the polls in snap election defined by pandemic

NDP Leader John Horgan’s decision to call an election comes more than a year ahead of schedule and during a pandemic

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
B.C. driver thought he retrieved a dead bald eagle – until it came to life in his backseat

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

Chastity Davis-Alphonse took the time to vote on Oct. 21. B.C’s general Election Day is Saturday, Oct. 24. (Chastity Davis-Alphonse Facebook photo)
B.C. reconciliation advocate encourages Indigenous women to vote in provincial election

Through the power of voice and education Chastity Davis-Alphonse is hopeful for change

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

The family of Anika Janz, who died after collapsing at school, has launched a GoFundMe to assist with funeral proceedings. (GoFundMe photo)
Family of student who died launches GoFundMe

Rick Hansen Secondary School student Anika Janz, 14, died after collapsing in PE class

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Green party Leader Sonia Furstenau arrives to announce her party’s election platform in New Westminster, B.C., on October 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. Green party says it’s raised nearly $835,000 in 38 days

NDP Leader John Horgan is holding his final virtual campaign event

U.S. border officers at the Peace Arch crossing arrested two men on California warrants this week. (File photo)
Ottawa predicts system delays, backlogs unless court extends life of refugee pact

Canada and the United States recognize each other as safe places to seek protection

BC Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson,  BC NDP leader John Horgan and BC Green leader Sonia Furstenau. (File)
B.C. VOTES 2020: Climate change and sustainability promises from the parties

Snap election has led to a short campaign; here’s the lowdown on the platforms

Most Read